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How does laser printers work?

One of the questions we are frequently asked "How does laser printing work?", so I thought some people might find the following brief, basic description of laser printing technology useful.

How do Laser Printers Work?

Modern laser printers rely on similar technology as used in the first photocopiers. This technique is called electrophotography and was invented in 1938 and developed by Xerox into the commercial photo copy machine later in the 1980s.


This process used in laser printers, involves the following 6 steps:

1. A photosensitive surface is charged with static electricity by a device creating a corona discharge.

2. During the next step the charged photoconductor is exposed to an optical image via light to discharge it selectively and forms a latent image.

3. This latent image is then developed by spreading toner, a fine powder, over the surface. This fine toner powder adheres only to the charged areas, thereby making the latent image visible.

4. Next, an electrostatic field transfers the developed image from the photosensitive surface to a sheet of paper.

5. The transferred visible image is then permanently fixed to the paper, by fusing the toner using heat and pressure.

6. The final step is cleaning of the excess toner and electrostatic charges from the photoconductor to make it ready for next cycle.

Laser printers offer the best print quality, including the highest resolution. The unique difference between ink and laser printing is the method of exposition or formation of the latent image.


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